Defining internal cleansing
Why we must practise internal cleansing (dhauti)? There are many people who take a bath 3-4 times a day. Well, that’s great. Researches have found that soaking in warm water daily for 8 weeks is more effective at easing anxiety than a prescription drug. Here are some benefits of having a bath daily:
- Improving blood circulation
- Inducing sleep
- Lowering blood pressure
- Cleaning the skin
- Moisturizing the skin
- Reducing muscles tension
- Boosting immune system
- Removing toxins
Now let’s imagine that you have a car, which maybe you have. You wash your car 2 times a month. However, for nearly 2 years you have been just washing the exterior parts of the automobile: windscreen, roof, bonnet, bumper and trunk. But what about the interior parts like the radiator, air filter, seats, dashboard, electronic and electrical components? Dust and dirt will accumulate on those parts which will result in a reduction in the efficiency and lifespan of the car.
Likewise, mucus, bile, gas, fats, toxins etc. have been accumulating in our bodies since our births. But unfortunately we are not doing anything to get rid of them. The reason is we do not know what to do. We just go to the pharmacy and buy the next big pill, hoping this magic pill will clean the internal parts of our body.
Fortunately, we do not need to contaminate our internal organs with any type of chemicals found in the pills. And this is where dhauti (internal body cleansing) comes into play.
Internal cleansing practices
Internal cleansing (Dhauti) consists of a series of simple practices which clean various organs and regions of the head. These practices include:
- Danta moola (cleaning of the teeth and gums)
- Jihva moola (cleaning of the tongue)
- Kapal randhra (washing the skull)
- Karna (cleaning the ears)
- Chakshu (washing the eyes)
- Vatsara (expelling air through the anus)
- Varisara (evacuating a large quantity of water through the bowels)
- Vahnisara (rapid expansion/contraction of the abdomen)
- Bahiskrita (washing the rectum in the hands)
- Danda (inserting a soft banana stem into the stomach)
- Vastra (swallowing a long thin strip of cloth)
- Vaman (regurgitating the contents of the stomach)
- Moola shodhana has 2 practices. We can either insert a turmeric root or the middle finger into the anus.
Let’s check some of the above mentioned practices in more details.
Danta moola (cleaning of the teeth and gums)
The traditional method of cleaning the teeth is by means of a twig from a neem tree. The twig is usually about five inches long and half an inch thick and it has good alkaline and astringent properties. We need to chew the end of the stick until it forms bristles. Then we can use the bristles to brush our teeth and gums. Both chewing the end of the stick and using it as a brush makes the teeth and gums strong and clean. After use the stick is thrown away.
However, modern man will not use such a method as it is probably impractical. He would prefer to use his toothbrush and toothpaste. After use, the brush must be cleaned. The gums should be cleaned with the index finger making a hard, rubbing motion over both the inner and outer gums. It’s advisable to clean the teeth after each meal.
Jihva moola (cleaning of the tongue)
Before proceeding with cleaning the tongue, make sure the hands are washed and the finger nails perfectly cleaned. Join the index, middle and ring fingers of one hand so that the tips are in line with each other. Carefully push them into the mouth and as far towards the back of the throat as is possible without retching. Rub the root of the tongue slowly and thoroughly for a few minutes. Simultaneously try to cough out any phlegm and other impurities that are in the throat. This should be sufficient to remove any impurities from the tongue.
Kapal randhra (washing the skull)
This practice is concerned with washing the upper part of the head. It is a very simple process and requires little description. One must merely wash the head vigorously and thoroughly with cold water. This brings about a soothing influence in the whole brain. It is very useful when you feel tired or sluggish, as it instantly brings wakefulness and vitality.
Press the temples on each side of the forehead with two thumbs, making small circling movements. Do this for a minute or so, and then repeat the same movement rotating the thumbs in the opposite direction. This again brings relaxation to the brain and is especially useful if you have a headache.
Karna (cleaning the ears)
Gently place the small finger in the ear canal and rotate the finger cyclically a number of times. We need to apply a slight pressure against the ear walls to dislodge any unnecessary wax. Remove the finger and direct the head and ear canal downwards to allow any dry wax to drop out. Repeat the same procedure but using the index finger. There should be a layer of wax on your fingers after completing the practice. Repeat with the other ear. Perform this practice every week or so, but make sure that your fingernails are short and clean.
Chakshu (washing the eyes)
This practice involves washing the eyes with clean, lukewarm water daily. This can be done when taking a wash or bath, making sure that no soap enters the eyes.
Varisara (evacuating a large quantity of water through the bowels)
You must drink a total of 16 glasses of warm salty water and evacuate it through the bowels. Instead of salt, you can add lemon or garlic juice.
First drink two glasses and perform a series of five specific postures (asanas):
- Tadasana (palm tree pose)
- Tiryaka tadasana (swaying palm tree pose)
- Kati chakrasana (standing palm tree pose)
- Tiryaka bhujangasana (twisting cobra pose)
- Udarakarshan asana (abdominal stretch pose)
Perform the asanas after every two glasses of water until the water starts flowing out of the anus. Once clear water starts coming through, you will understand that the stomach and intestines are perfectly clean. You can now stop the practice.
Wait for forty-five minutes before proceeding with any meal. It is advisable to have a saltless liquid mixture of cooked rice, green gram soup (mung dal) and clarified butter (or curd) until the stomach is completely full.
Vahnisara (rapid expansion/contraction of the abdomen)
This practice involves conscious movement of the abdominal muscles and organs and this creates internal heat.
Sit in bhadrasana (gracious pose). First, perform jalandhara bandha (chin lock). Then push out and in the abdomen rapidly while holding the breath. It can be done while breathing through the mouth with the tongue extended, moving the abdomen in rhythm with the breath.
Bahiskrita (washing the rectum in the hands)
It involves standing navel-deep in clean water, pushing the rectum out and washing it in the hands.However, note that this is a very difficult technique. It can only be practised by advanced hatha yoga practitioner.
Danda (inserting a soft banana stem into the stomach)
This techniques involves inserting a soft banana stem into the stomach. A sugarcane stick or a turmeric root can also be used instead. But nowadays, some people are using a thin catheter as a substitute.
Vaman (regurgitating the contents of the stomach)
In this practice one must vomit the food from the stomach three hours after a meal. If it is difficult you can drink a glass or two of warm saline water and then tickle the back of the throat with the first two fingers to induce vomiting. After performing this practice a sweet milk rice pudding should be eaten.
Vastra (swallowing a long thin strip of cloth)
- Before proceeding with this techniques, there are some points that need to kept in the mind:
- Perform this practice only under expert guidance.
- Perform in full accordance with the instructions given below.
- We must use a finely woven cotton cloth.
- It must be unused and clean.
- Do not use any type of synthetic material.
- Trim the cloth neatly so that no loose threads fray on the sides.
- It must not be wider than the tongue or it will fold as it passes down the throat
- It must have a length of at least one meter, but no more than a meter and a half.
- Wash and rinse the cloth well before boiling it in water
- Keep the cloth in a container of warm water during the practice
- Assume a squatting position with the heels flat on the ground and the buttocks off the ground. You van rest on a brick or something about the same height if you wish
- Relax the body.
- Keep the cloth spread and not folded as you utilize it. Spread one end over the tongue and start swallowing the cloth.
- If the cloth catches in the throat and will not pass down, take a sip of warm water but do not drink a large quantity. We need to fill the stomach with the cloth, and not with water.
- The cloth may tend to stick in the lowest point of the throat, so keep swallowing the cloth. Resist the urge to vomit. Once the cloth passes a little further down the esophagus the problem will end.
- After swallowing two thirds of the cloth, leave the remaining few inches hanging out of the mouth and stand up ready to practice nauli (abdominal massage)
- You can leave the cloth in the stomach for five to twenty minutes but no longer.
- Practice dakshina nauli (isolating the muscles and churning to the right) and vama nauli (isolating the muscles and churning to the left). Then practise madhyama nauli (isolating the muscles and churning to the middle).
- As the last and most advanced practice, now rotate the nauli clockwise and anticlockwise.
- Five to ten minutes is sufficient time to clean the stomach.
- Sit in a squatting position and slowly take the cloth out.
Moola shodhana (anal cleansing)
First, start by sitting in utkatasana (chair pose). Then insert the middle finger into the rectum and rotate it clockwise, then anticlockwise. Make sure the fingernail is cut short, and if necessary put some nonirritating oil on the finger to lubricate the anus. Also, you can use turmeric root instead of the finger.
Benefits of internal cleansing
When properly practised, this combination of internal cleansing techniques cleans the entire digestive and respiratory system. It removes excess and old bile, mucus and toxins and restores the natural balance of the body’s chemical composition, thus alleviating ailments caused by such imbalances. It also helps to get rid of infectious bacteria from the mouth, nose, eyes, ears, throat, stomach, intestines and anus. The results are a reduction of excess fatty tissue and relief from flatulence, constipation, poor digestion and loss of appetite. Moreover, dhauti can help cure abdominal ailments and fever.